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2012 – The Year That Was

“Have more fun in 2013” – Nas

Courtesy of Hip Hop Wired

Courtesy of Hip Hop Wired

I spent my last day in 2012 at Radio City Music Hall listening to Nas. The concert was amazing (a little too short) and being in NYC on NYE is an experience all its own. It was the end to a unique, but not quite, year. 2012 occurred with no major life changes: no new job, romance, accomplishment. That could be why I was so disenchanted with it. 2012 marked a significant birthday as I graduated from the cool kids club, without feeling it at all. I spent the aforementioned birthday at the opening of a new supper club, that I am not sure still exists. I wasn’t impressed and didn’t check on its progress.

I decided that I needed to push myself more, personally. I am the kind of person who can stand up to a 6’4” screaming E9 in the office or climb a mountain in a foreign country, but won’t speak to a stranger at a party. Thus, I vowed to go out more and take chances. None of these things I like, by the way.

To recap my year, I am using the same system I’ve employed since 3rd grade. It first starts with best friends and new friends. I did make a few new friends, so go me!

Favorite TV Shows:

  1. Parks and Recreation
  2. Scandal
  3. Chopped

Least Favorite Show:

Who has time for that?

Favorite New Show:

Nashville

Fun Fads:

  1. Ridiculous VH1 Reality Shows
  2. over-the-top nails,

Sports:

My Pistons weren’t good this year and my Tigers were swept at the World Series

Best Concert:

So difficult… as I went to a lot of great shows, but I’ll give it to Nas, since he was  last

Honorable Mention:

Summer Spirit Festival, since I went free and Sharon Jones is awesomeness

Best Songs:

This was not a great new music year for me, meaning that I really haven’t been  exploring music like I should. That should be something I vowed to change in 2013

Favorite Movie:

Honestly, the only movie I thought about a week even after viewing was The Silver Linings Playbook. I just loved it.

Honorable Mention:

The Avengers, because I was so amazed that they pulled it off

Funniest Moment:

There will be a ham. This line represents the ridiculousness of my work environment perfectly

Strangest Moment:

That awful wind storm in June, plus I was stuck driving in it

Worst Moment:

Having my car towed, darn it

Fun Moments:

  1. All the moments on this blog, of course
  2. The annual Boo Bash
  3. Finally visiting South Beath

Favorite spots:

  1. Panera, which shouldn’t be shared but I eat there once a week, lol
  2. My beloved yoga studio, a good one is hard to find
  3. Queen Makeda/1920, who knew I’d be happy going to the same spot every  week

Favorite meal:

Drag Brunch in Miami, honey

Regrets:

Oh my

Highlights:

  1. Achieving a headstand in yoga, I joke that this is my single biggest accomplishment this year
  2. Completing The Warmth of Other Suns, as that was a long book

The Birthday Edition (Not Mine!)

This week has been full of win. First, I discovered that I won my hearing against The Man, which turned out to be a woman.  Second, my aunt sent me my Christmas gift early—A Keurig! I only drink about a cup of coffee a day and always thought it would be perfect for my lifestyle. However, it runs $100+ and never thought I could justify the expense. I honestly cannot remember the last time I wanted something rather pricey, $20 or more, and got it as a gift. As a single adult, expensive presents just isn’t something you get. I am quite pleased.

Work has been getting in the way of my social life. The long hours and open Petrie dish of ickiness, I mean open work environment, exhausted me and I didn’t make it to the Leela James concert on Friday or drinks with a friend on Saturday. Sunday quickly became by use or lose all hope for having an interesting weekend. Another problem with being single is when people ask, “How was your weekend?” If you are married or otherwise involved and you say “Well, I went to Home Depot and purchased a shovel”, people smile and nod. Conversely, if you say the same thing as a single person, people frown and ask if you’ve tried online dating.

First on Sunday, we went to brunch at Sax. This space has been about seven restaurants/concepts since I lived here, so I don’t have great expectations for its success. Sax is a burlesque lounge complete with waitresses in

Overview Picture of Sax Lounge, courtesy of the website

Overview Picture of Sax Lounge, courtesy of the website

corsets and shows every 30 minutes. I am one of the few people that actually found the Christina Aguilera + Cher vehicle, Burlesque, cute. So, I thought it would be a fun time. The first number was “Lady Marmalade,” which I felt was a little too close to the video from Moulin Rouge. Even the wigs were the same.  The best number was the second one that I saw, which was “Big Spender.” This looked exactly what I think burlesque is: flirtatious, sexy, fun, well-executed and great choreography. The last was so lackluster that actually don’t remember the song.

The place is dark. A little too dark for a winter brunch as the days get short and sunlight is at a premium. The food is excellent. I had a lobster hash, which was divine, sumptuous and perfectly seasoned. I add pepper to everything as a holdover to bland college cafeteria food and needed to add nothing. My friend had crab and gruyere fondue, which was so remarkably crabby. It was not just crab essence as I would expect. We also had unlimited pomegranate mimosas and free birthday cake shots, which were too large to be shots. The shots were given because while the food is excellent and the performances, average. The service is so slow and I complained. I am not a complainer, so that demonstrates how slow it was.

Poster from the Kiss N Grind event

Poster from the Kiss N Grind event

Finally, we rounded out the day at Kiss N Grind. The event was planned by a personal favorite, Lil SoSo Productions (the owner, Kat, looked gorgeous), and was amazing. I came to the event slightly tipsy, so the two free drink tickets (sponsored by Smirnoff) sat for a while. The Viktor Duplaix event is typically held in LA and is on its first tour. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, the drink menu (eventually) and the space (Ozio’s rooftop) worked well (sunlight!). While initially, I was concerned about that lack of people on the dance floor, the crowd loosened up and grinded away as promised. I did not spot any kissing though.

All in all, I think that one day trumped some entire weekends.

Stay Cute Mondays – Winterization

In Real Simple magazine, there is a cute section on what would you do with $100 windfall. I got to experience this firsthand because after a week of left hand itching I received a refund check from my graduate school alma mater for $100. I have no clue as to why I got it since I graduated eight years ago, but I chose not to worry. I decided to spend my extra dough on my skin winterization plan. I have extremely dry and very sensitive skin. In fact, most liquid cleansers, body washes and hand soaps break me out in the most unattractive hives, followed by peeling. I also have a very unique T-zone situation. My T-zone (forehead and nose) is extremely dry while my cheeks can get a little oily especially in the summer.

I first went to what was once the best deal ever—a luxurious 45-minute hot stone pedicure complete with glass of good enough wine for $35. However, in my two-month absence (vacation, Sandy and whatnot) something happened. The technician usually rubbed my calves, arches and heels with the hot stones to practically turned my feet into butter. No longer. I got a calf rub, a foot scrub and was sent on my merry way. I did complain and I was told it was because they thought I was a Groupon user. Umm…okay.  Granted I discovered the spot through a Groupon, but I subsequently became a regular. As a result of my displeasure and lack of wine I was given a discount with a price of $25.

Due to my sensitive skin, I am a Kiehls devotee. I received my annual Kiehls cash. The company is quite stingy with discounts, so I view these things like gold. They do have a nice recycling policy, which almost makes it fair. I switched my daily facial routine to their Ultra Moisturizer line (face wash, day moisturizer and night cream).

Here is the rest of my plan to keep my cold  parched skin as supple as possible:

Face:                   

neutrogena

One of my short-term life goals is to own a Clarisonic. However, my aunt got me a Neutrogena microdermabrasion tool that works phenomenally well in the interim. I used it twice a week to slough off the dry skin

I usually do a Lush Oatifix masque once a week for added moisture

Finally, I apply a little shea butter to my T-zone daily to prevent flakes. I foolishly used to buy the L’Occitane’s travel Pure Shea Butter for this purpose because I like the consistency. However, I realized that I could buy pure solid Shea Butter at the Beauty Supply for $7 and whip it myself

shea butter

Feet                     

I have the driest feet. My beloved Suave Cocoa Butter with Shea lotion does absolutely nothing to save them from the dreaded ash. I discovered Suave because I started buying Jergens with Shea Butter lotion. I truly believe Shea Butter is my savior. However, Suave, in its role as the Jean Nate of beauty products, soon came up with a similar product that to me is better than its pricier counterpart

I need to scrub them to death. This is where Lush’s Porridge soap scrub comes into play. As many have noted, it can be extremely messy, so remember to scrub in a confined area as the little flakes of oats can get everywhere

Finally I pile on the Burt’s Bees Coconut feet cream before bed. It was my first guess at a foot cream and the best burts beeschoice ever. They suggest wearing with socks, but I have a tendency to kick socks off.  If you apply any other time, it makes your feet way too slippery for shoes

Hands                

I have gone through every product line, every formula, every price point. My hands actually crack and peel from dryness. It doesn’t help that I wash them constantly. I really wanted something that would only need goldbondapplication a few times a day. My best discovery was another accident—GoldBond Ultimate Intensive Healing Cream. It was on sale at CVS and I liked the 7 moisturizers tagline. I love it. I apply only thrice a day unlike other formulas, which seemed to require use after every washing

That’s my strategy. The less itching the better.

Four Day Weekend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons: food, fellowship and Friday, black Friday. While this year’s Thanksgiving was quiet, I did make the most of the four-day weekend. Growing up with a shopaholic meant I spent many hours bored in department and discount stores while my mother scoured racks for clearance deals. My mother loved to tell people how much my outfits cost. This was back in the 80’s and 90’s when department stores had huge discounts on merchandise. I don’t know what changed but there aren’t discounts galore anymore. The ability to brag that an entire outfit including shoes cost less than $40 has diminished. I actually hated Black Friday. Waking up at 6 a.m. to shop until noon wasn’t my thing. However, something changed when I spent my first Thanksgiving in Maryland. I didn’t like it and I decided to shake the blues of being away from “home” by shopping. So I marched myself to WalMart at the crack of dawn and got a lovely $99 top of the line sewing machine and a $39 portable DVD player. And then headed to Sears for my first digital camera. Hilariously, I use none of these things currently. My sewing ability is limited to hemming garments though I keep saying I will take sewing lessons. The DVD player was used for exactly two bus trips to NYC before I determined it to be more of a nuisance (because I prefer to limit myself to one bag). I dropped the camera in a fountain in Vegas and it never recovered.

Black Friday is very controversial. My name brand devotees despise anything but the best so scoff at most doorbusters. I am not an electronic brand junkie. If the best television costs $800 and the second best costs $600, I will be buying the $600 one and spending the $200 for entertainment money. I prefer experiences to things. However, occasionally the best technology does go on sale on Black Friday (rarely and usually at deadly Wal-Mart, which has just devolved into chaos). Ultimately, I stick to household items, clothing and appliances. I know that there are actual deals to be had and I learned to love the thrill of getting a great deal.

Now, I have set rules for Black Friday shopping:

  1. No off-brands. I owned an Apex CRT television years ago that never worked and I returned it twice! This was difficult because it was a CRT and I had no upper body strength
  2. No Best Buy ever. People camp out and I don’t wait in line. Also, it takes forever to check out. I actually waited in line for 45 minutes without moving once before giving up. Occasionally, I go later in the morning and get the deals that the masses didn’t care about.
  3. Never wait in line. Yep, I arrive about 10 -15 minutes before opening, queue up and enter when the doors open. Placement in line rarely leads to the good items as you just need to be rather quick
  4. Know what things cost. Not everything is a deal. Some stores, mostly clothing stores, marked things 40% off but raise the original price so it’s really only 25% off
  5. So, understand trends. Some stores also have a 40% off sale on Black Friday, but make everything 60% off the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes the converse is true. I swear by leather cashmere-lined gloves which go for $80-90 dollars. On Black Friday, they are $30 and they never went lower than $40 all winter. The next year, I knew to buy more on Black Friday
  6. No fighting. I think this should go without saying
  7. Scope out the store prior to the sale. Some stores stock the merchandise the week of Black Friday and you can get good surveillance. If I know that there are only 20 crock pots, I will head for those first versus the 500 pajamas. This also helps when items are in weird places. Target once hid automatic wine openers on the top shelf and no one could find them. I knew where they were and got multiples for gifts one year. They were a hit

After all of that shopping, I treated myself to the Faith Evans concert. Despite my numerous times at the Howard Theater, I have never eaten there. I always eat before going anywhere, even meeting people for dinner. This is for self preservation. I understand the food wasn’t good, but the show was awesome. Faith, sang her face off, as the old folks say, and was so energetic. She also had the best, happiest backing band that I have seen in an extremely long time. I saw her a few years ago at For Sisters Only, which never looks right in the new Convention Center, and she was okay. I reckoned that maybe I should have seen her in her prime and shrugged it off. I actually tried once when I first moved to D.C. and the show was cancelled. That incident leads to one of my best stories of how I once spoke to the Vice President of Ticketmaster. Back to Faith, boy was I wrong. Maybe the venue, time and event didn’t lead to a good show at the Convention Center, but we definitely got the best of her last Friday. I left in awe or should I say with Tears of Joy. Too corny. Oh, okay.

Third Week of November

My third week in November—second on a $30 entertainment budget—included only one outing. I was scheduled to attend an Omega Psi Phi Founders Day event for the odd price of $16.24; however, plans changed. A friend of a friend’s mother died, which required immediate attention. 2012 forever will be remembered for me as the year of parental death. So many of my friends and former classmates had parents die this year. This is especially difficult because childhood friends’ parents have more of an indelible mark on your life than current friends’ parents, due to the fact you remember eating at their houses, seeing them at outings, watching them drive you around. It’s a different relationship.

Gentleman Jack Logo on the Andrew Mellon Auditorium Ceiling

For my lone outing I attended the Gentleman Jack’s Art, Beats + Lyrics. I typically never wait in line, outside for anything. Even, Black Friday (post forthcoming), I just arrive right before doors open and just glide in. So this event tested my patience. I arrived not at the start, 7p, because I heard the lines are long and figured that arriving later would allow for the line to die down. This was remarkably untrue. I began to lose my patience after about 30 minutes of waiting in the cold and my lack of knowing anyone important enough to let me cut the line. However, I discovered that friends were slightly ahead of me and got an impressive 30-40 people jump, which isn’t worth telling. The event was a mix of art, music and drinks. Free drinks have an amazing ability to go quickly. Upon entering, we immediately entered the drink line, where we received the last of the last of the specialty cocktails. Good thing for that 30 person jump.
The first act was Mansions on the Moon. A casual onlooker remarked that they sounded a bit like U2. I could hear that slightly. They had a rhythmic guitar sound that is reminiscent of the Irish band. It made for great background music to view the art on display. Next, was Shock G of Digital Underground, the fun hip hop group from the 90’s, which sadly is best known for launching Tupac. He prompted a contest amongst my friends to name all of the Digital Underground songs that we could. Boy, was that a sad output. He could actually play an instrument, which impressed me more than his attempts to get people to jump up and down. People waited in line too long in the cold for this to actually happen, maybe if it was a beach concert. He did more songs than we remembered as we forgot Kiss You Back, which is shocking (no pun intended) because I owned that song in high school, back when you could buy singles on cassette for .99 cents, pre-iTunes.
Finally, we were treated to Scarface, whose songs I definitely remembered. He came out playing the guitar!!! This was awesome. Then he sang some Led Zeppelin, thanks Twitter as I don’t know 70’s rock music at all. It really is a black hole of my music knowledge. This was not as awesome. I became concerned that since this was a free event we would be treated to those weird artistic shows that Billy remarked on in Purple Rain that only satisfy the artist. However, Scarface said that he was just bullshitting and moved on to the hip hop he was famous for.

As for the art, it wasn’t my taste. It verged a bit on the kind of artwork you see on t-shirts at festivals and fairs. However, I love faces and these items were my favorites. I thought Mansions on the Moon made a better backdrop for perusing arts, as Shock G and Scarface took attention away from the exhibits, the make your own art installation and the not sure if it was ironic opportunity to take a group picture (the kind you saw in clubs in the 90’s and that my college crew refused to take). Meanies! Now, I have absolutely nothing capturing that part of my life.

I might go again if I can find the will to stand in line again. However, it was free, which means more money for next week. Yay!

Stay Cute Mondays 11/19

I remember when I was younger I saw an Oprah episode called “Are You Cute As You Can Be?” I loved the premise because many have stated that they don’t find Oprah to be a traditionally beautiful woman. As an aside, I never understand what people hope to accomplish by telling someone that they find him or her to be unattractive. Now what? That person just disappears.

Back to beauty, the idea is you should strive to look the best you can possibly look still keeping who you are. The idea was further defined by a Vogue article I saw years later that gave 5 ways you can always be attractive even if you aren’t beautiful:

  1. Get a great haircut. Ponytails are for the beautiful
  2. Wear clothes that accentuate your figure. Down with sacks and lumpy sweaters
  3. Be well groomed. Get your eyebrows arched. Use makeup to enhance your best features
  4. Have and maintain great skin
  5. Have a great smile and smile a lot

I love this advice. I live this advice. Plus, it works. Following it makes does indeed make you your cutest. If you follow it well. Hardly, any fault can be found in a polished, well put together woman.   This can be difficult in the well-scrubbed world of Washington, where women believe the key to being treated seriously is to look serious. Lotions, potions and notions have always made me happy. However, wearing lipstick in certain DC environments can make you look absolutely frivolous.  Does that mean you should wake up, wash your hair and secure it with a clip everyday? Of course not. What’s the fun in that? So for this I’ve started Stay Cute Mondays. Enjoy.

For Rule 5, I have naturally dry everything—skin, scalp, lips. Therefore I developed a wonderful daily three-step system to cure my least favorite beauty faux pas: chapped lips. I hate chapped lips. And the fix is super cheap. So when I see someone with chapped lips, I often wonder where her life went wrong. Supple lips are the key to a great smile.

Exfoliate

Exfoliate!

This trick always works.  Always! Rub a little lemon juice on your lips. It may sting if your lips are cracked, but melts away all of the dead skin.

A good second best is a lovely lip scrub from Lush. I like Mint Julip.  I’ve seen recommendations to scrub with a toothbrush, but I don’t find this particularly effective.

 

 

 

Soothe

My next step is to soothe my lips with a solid lip balm.  Amazingly my favorite lip balm I received free. I love Fresh Sugar lip balm which I got as a free birthday gift from Sephora. I just love it. It gives my lips a great base for the next layer. Another favorite was another serendipitous find—Panama Jack vanilla lip balm. It was another freebie as it was a bonus to a sunscreen purchase. It’s so soft and smoothes on easily. I find that important in a lip balm for those of us with full lips.

Smooth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finish

This is odd but true, but I am not fond of the color of my lips. They are a soft brown, not a vibrant pink. Because of this I always wear a tinted lip gloss with moisturizing ingredients. My personal choice for years was Kiehl’s Lip Balm SPF 15. However, I discovered that my beloved standby has been discontinued in  September 2012. A good runner-up is the Mentha Shimmer Tint from Bath and Body Works.

Finish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These steps will ensure one aspect of your great smile looks great. Even through winter’s cruel, cold months.

Veterans Day Weekend

On 10 November, I attended Liner Notes, courtesy of a wonderful deal through my usual channel for inexpensive events: Goldstar. I am quite broke this month and challenged myself to only spend $50 a week on outings. This may seem easy for many, but proves difficult for me. My problem stemmed from the fact that I purchased a $43 ticket to see Mint Condition. As an aside, I really need to make at least a small effort to go to the box office of concert venues while I am already out because the ticket fees were 43% of the cost of the actual ticket. Then I took one of my best buds who was only in town for a night to birthday drinks.

Amazingly, this dropped me to a remaining $30 for each of the next three weeks. Here’s how I spend my second weekend in November (first on a $30 budget): I went to an Afro-Brazilian dance class for $12. I thoroughly enjoyed my first class, though I had to leave early because I was improperly (i.e. in the grocery store parking lot) parked. I wasn’t particularly good. The instructor only showed the class the move once and then I had to rely on wiggly White girls in front of me to remind me of what it looked like, which I feel wasn’t the best exemplar. Who are we Alvin Ailey members? If we could get a dance on the first try then we wouldn’t need this class, would we? D.C. has the coolest classes to get more interesting exercise but honestly parking precludes my attending most because paying to park is equal or more to the cost of the class, which blows the budget.

Then, I attended the aforementioned Liner Notes for $10.50 with fees. I will admit that I did not know what to expect as the description on Goldstar didn’t give much and shockingly, the theater’s website didn’t link properly to the production company’s site.

Pic from the B-Fly Entertainment website

The event was a celebration of music, connecting original songs through a live full band—bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, horn, vocals—to hip hop songs that sample the content with lyricists under the theme of “Family”. In fact, there were generations present throughout the night with men playing alongside sons, daughters and grandchildren.

I am quite knowledgeable of 70’s era music because my mother has an extensive music collection. It is ridiculous actually. People tried to convince her for years to sell it and she refuses. Being defiant about every damn thing including small items, like “turn right here”, she sabotaged potential sales by discarding all of the album covers. She knew this ruined all resale value. However, this collection means that I can usually identify most samples of hip hop songs easily, not that this is a marketable talent. The event started with Sly and the Family Stone. I actually remembered “Sing a Simple Song” from the recesses of my childhood though I should really go back and re-listen to this stuff. However, I couldn’t remember what hip hop song could have sampled it and then the ending. Yes, the “Ahhs” and pow, “Mama Said Knock You Out”. I was extremely excited to learn new “originals”. I didn’t know the origin of the “They Reminisce Over You” sample at all and it’s a really beautiful song. I had a ball for many reasons. I got to sing and dance. I love singing along to anything, even Garth Brooks songs I remember my high school classmates playing ad nauseum. Plus, I had an opportunity to do something that I have been doing for years inside my head anyway—bridge the gap between the music my mother adored and the hip hop that defined my generation. Great event.

I capped off my holiday weekend, forgetting my migraine jamming to the Chuck Brown band and the band of my generation, Mint Condition. I really could listen to “Nothing More to Say” live over and over again forever.

Welcome to Streetrunner Life

Welcome to my blog. The title is a play on something my grandfather used to say about me and my cousin: “Y’all sure do run the street. Bang, bang and you are off to the next…” It’s perfectly fine as my grandfather was/is a bonafide streetrunner himself. So it really runs in our genes. Enjoy.